YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown observed Memorial Day on Monday with several ceremonies, beginning with a solemn remembrance in Shrub Oak followed by a parade in Yorktown Heights. After marching down Underhill Avenue and Commerce Street, the day culminated with some speeches at Jack DeVito Veterans Memorial Field.
There, Navy veteran Edward Gettler reminded residents of the brutal consequences of war, specifically when it comes to atomic bombs. For three months in 1952, Gettler said, he participated in the manufacturing and testing of a 10.2 megaton atomic bomb. On the day the bomb was tested on the Marshall Islands, Gettler and his crew were miles away on a ship. They were instructed to turn their hats down, roll their sleeves down, face away and close their eyes.
“When the detonation took place, everybody, I’m one of them, we all felt a blast of heat, a gush of hot air, and a rumble that sounded like the earth was coming to a closure,” Gettler said.
When he was instructed to turn back around and survey the devastation, Gettler said, he saw what appeared to be “two suns.” One of his friends told Gettler that he kept his eyes open during the test.
“He said, ‘I saw the bones in the hand of the man in front of me,’ ” Gettler said.
Gettler said he is one of many veterans exposed to atomic bombs who are living today with various radiation-induced health issues. Many have also died from their ailments.
“You’re all patriots,” he told the crowd. “God bless you all, God bless America, and I hope it never comes to any more of that.”
All photos were taken by Yorktown News photograper Tabitha Pearson Marshall.